College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)

Department

Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Vincent B Van Hasselt

Second Advisor

David L. Shapiro

Third Advisor

Barry Nierenberg

Keywords

Assessment, Law Enforcement, PTSD, Resilience, Screening, Stress

Abstract

Law enforcement is a high-risk profession associated with myriad sources of stress. Stressors from the law enforcement agency, family, law enforcement subculture, special assignments, and critical incidents encountered on the job result in a wide range of negative psychological and physical sequelae for large numbers of law enforcement officers (LEOs). LEOs have increased rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and substance abuse compared to the general population. While nearly all officers are exposed to critical incidents, not all develop posttraumatic stress symptomatology. Research addressing resilience to law enforcement stress remains nascent; however, a growing body of research, borrowing from positive psychology, resilience research, and spirituality, has begun to identify several protective factors. Identifying negative stress reactions is a critical step in prevention, intervention, and recovery for LEOs. Several assessment measures have been proposed over the years to address this issue. One such measure, the Law Enforcement Officer Stress Survey (LEOSS) has shown promise in early detection of law enforcement stress, and has demonstrated strong psychometric properties with regard to validity and internal consistency. The purpose of the current study was to further evaluate psychometric properties of the LEOSS vis-a-vis construct validity. This study utilized archival data from a non-clinical sample of LEOs, who completed the LEOSS, among other measures of law enforcement stress and resilience, in order to identify predictors of both negative stress reactions and positive coping. To assess construct validity, principal components factor analysis was employed. Results indicated strong loadings with other measures of law enforcement and general stress measures, as well as differential loadings for the LEOSS and resilience measures. A correlation matrix was constructed to address specific aspects of convergent and discriminant validity. Findings indicated moderate correlations between the LEOSS and measures of law enforcement stress, as well as a lack of significant correlations with measures assessing resilience and social desirability. Finally, multiple regression analyses were used to reveal predictors of law enforcement stress and resilience. Results from the LEOSS were relatively consistent with other stress measures. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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